Sacrificing Rationality: The Tooth Fairy

toothfairyMy 6-old-son, “Soren”, lost his first tooth.  When the tooth first became loose, he told my wife, “You know Mom, I don’t believe in the tooth fairy.”  Soren has long prided himself in his insights (don’t know where he gets that).

“Really?” my wife responded, “Why is that?”

“Well,” Soren sincerely replied, “what would a fairy do with all those teeth anyway?”

My wife smiled and that was the end of his insightful dispelling of yet another childhood myth — or so we thought.

Soren’s tooth came out a few days later but apparently, just before loosing the tooth, he had a chat with his baby-sitter (our next-door-neighbor).  The baby-sitter excitedly rejoiced with Soren about his loose tooth and ask how much money he gets from the tooth fairy.  That was all Soren needed.  Soren now again believed in the tooth fairy when he realized, with tooth in hand, that he could actually get money in exchange for this now useless tooth.

Children are able to sacrifice rationality and embrace myths as long as the trade-off is worth it.  Humans seem to be born with this simple economic tendency.  People are willing to sacrifice rationality and believe all sorts of myths if the act of believing can guarantee them friends, club activities, moral-teaching mechanisms, existential peace-of-mind, a girl-friend, political-legitimacy, respect-in-the-town and the like.  Religions which make the trade-off of rationality worth it are religions that survive.

The Tooth Fairy lives !  Soren got a dollar for his tooth.

Interestingly, Soren was crying before going to bed the night of the exchange.  I asked him why and he said, “I am sad that the tooth fairy is taking my tooth.”  I said, “Why don’t we put a note with the tooth and ask the tooth fairy to bring your tooth back some day.”  Soren smiled and jumped out of bed to write the note .  The next morning Soren was happy to get his dollar and even more surprised that the tooth fairy took his note.

It seems like Soren may also want his rationality back  at the end of his childhood.  In the meanwhile, his childhood myths serve their purposes.  And in adulthood Soren will have yet further chances to grab bigger & better myths!

Finally, please don’t get me wrong folks, “rationality” is often over-rated.  For many folks, the benefits of sacrificing reason far outweigh the costs.

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Filed under Critical Thinking, Personal, Philosophy & Religion

6 responses to “Sacrificing Rationality: The Tooth Fairy

  1. Craig

    Why I know That There is a God and That He Loves Me

    A Personal Testimony.

    Years ago doubt was creeping into my head about the Lord and then a miracle happened.

    Three years ago 100 members of my church were enroute to a bible camp in the Blueridge Mountains of Virginia. They were traveling in a chartered bus. As they sang hymns, Satan was up to his old tricks. You see, the bus driver was an atheist alcoholic socialist and that day he was filling his coffee mug with vodka. As the bus wound up through the switchbacks, the driver got progressively drunker. Then it happened. It was that day that changed this poor sinner’s life forever. Entering a particularly tight switchback, the besotted driver finally lost control of the bus and it plummeted 1500 feet down into a ravine where it exploded into a fireball incinerating the flock. The only survivor that day was a young boy who was thrown from the bus by his father seconds before it hit the bottom.

    This young boy suffered severe brain damage from hitting a rock head first and will have to wear a football helmet and drool cup for the remainder of his life. But his survival proved to me that miracles do happen because God does exist and loves me. The Lord used that accident to bring me back to his flock.


    Praise Jesus! Just open your eyes to his miracles and you will see them everywhere.

  2. HAHA

    Craig ur comment is too funny.

    Someone surviving that to live with a damaged brain is an act god, and proves god exists.

    I suppose it does in the same sense that the accident happening in the first place proves that god does not exist. oh well.

    As for the article, I agree how some people close their eyes to certain truths if they think it can benefit them, or if other people tell them too.

    There is no rational reason to be religious, so all religious people seem irrational to me.

  3. @HAHA If someone is doing a cost-benefit analysis over whether to believe or not, then isn’t that your classic rational choice?

  4. Agreeing with Rene:
    If one calculates one’s future emotional states, finances, health, happiness etc… that result from a decision to sacrifice rationality at a particular decision junction, then at times, sacrificing rationality [albeit in a very isolated fashion] may be the most rational decision at that moment.
    So are we advocates of rationality as our master, or rationality as our tool?

  5. Hey man, hope all is good?

    “So are we advocates of rationality as our master, or rationality as our tool?”

    That’s a very useful question to de-construct the issue.

    I kinda suspect that everyone is of the second category. If Richard Dawkins did not think faith was so dangerous to society, he probably wouldn’t fight against it.

    For me the choice was easy. I want to be involved in science to some degree and so far I have been blessed with great friends and family. I do not yet need another emotional support system. Belief in God will greatly hinder my personal aspirations to find beauty and discover some of the external truth, especially regarding questions of ethics.

    I also agree with all of Dawkins’ points on the disadvantages of faith (I just think he’s excluding all the positive effects).

    For my mum it was completely different. She had to contend alone for a long difficult period of her life, with very little source of hope or strength in her life. I can completely understand her strong faith and I’m grateful for it.

    I was just reading the paperback preface to The God Delusion and Dawkins reserves some of his derision to the Atheists who ‘believe in belief’. He calls us condescending and patronizing.

    I’m not being condescending in any way when I say that some people need faith. My mum is easily a better person than I am. Many people who need faith are merely facing situations where religion is the best and most rational option to take.

  6. Rene, we are of the same opinion ! The only difference is my Mum is presently in heaven ! (smile)

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